Dancing on the Ceiling – Lionel Richie

Behold the powers of cocaine!

Let me make a point here: Lionel Richie’s album, Dancing on the Ceiling, was released a mere 16 days before my birth.  I only say that because if I was alive then this shit wouldn’t have been allowed.  Dancing on a ceiling?  That’s preposterous!  This is obviously a drug-addled party in a hotel suite.  No rules, no regulations, just a shit load of coke and bad decisions.  What hath Ronald Reagan wrought?

Come on people, get your acts together!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the 1980’s were a dark, dark time for this country.  This video showcases just how insane and unstable all the people were.  Look at Lionel Richie — he’s high out of his mind!  Throwing his arms and legs in the air, cackling like a witch, he’s lost it!  Worst yet, everyone around him seems just as nuts.  I shudder to think that I let that society raise me.  We’re damn lucky I’m not a serial killer.

(I’d like to acknowledge my parents at this moment.  Thank you for not ignoring my childhood by “dancing on ceilings”.  It’s much appreciated.)

OH CHRIST!  He really snuck up on me there.

OH CHRIST! Yikes, he really snuck up on me there

This was an 80’s video and like many from that decade, it was trying something new.  We must respect that and tip our hats to the director of the video.  Before “Dancing on the Ceiling”, America had never seen such amazing visuals.  I’m sure there were some who genuinely believed that Richie had the ability to walk and dance wherever he wanted.  Even better, those who were in Lionel’s presence were also granted that power.  That’s pretty darn impressive.

So they definitely were mixing it up.  The song itself is fine.  It’s catchy, it’s simple, it still plays at weddings to this day.  The video however, plays like some bizarre fever dream.  First of all, what the hell is with all the fog?  I’m assuming that there was an excess of fog machines in the 80’s.  Either that or the entire country had a real nasty tobacco addiction.  I mean, yikes, I can hardly see through the haze.

Secondly, Lionel Richie is WAAAAAAAY to0 excited to be partying with strangers.  He’s laughing, he’s tossing his hands in the air, he’s really going to town with these folks.  Me, I’d be a little curious how a bunch of weirdos showed up in my hotel room.  But not Lionel Richie, he’s got enough magic powers to make everyone dance!

And dance they do.  In fact, that’s all they do.  This video is literally just four minutes of people dancing on ceilings.  I know, I know, the title says it all but I still wanted more.  What if they flung the windows open and took to the streets, spreading their mystical abilities to unexpected citizens.  What if they ventured out to other parts of the hotel?  So many possibilities.  Yet, they remain in one room, repeating the same moves over and over.  Super powers have never been so boring.

Another question: what the hell is Lionel Richie wearing?  I’m aware that this was 20 years ago but that is a weak defense.  Is he wearing his pajamas?  For a man who can dance on the ceiling, that’s pretty lazy.

I cant see a god damned thing in there

I can't see a god damned thing in there

Let’s get to the technical aspects of this video: the DAAAAAAAAANCING!!!!!!!!!!  Boy, how they danced — AND ON THE CEILING, TOO!  I love the moments when Lionel has to pause for a second while the room literally rotates.  This is something you’ll see in a lot of music videos where folks walk upside down.  These days, we would just superimpose the person via CG but these were simpler times.  Simpler, dumber times.

It really does feel like they ran out of ideas after the initial dancing.  Perhaps the director forgot that the song was four minutes long.  Maybe Lionel Richie is a well-known improv performer and promised to deliver the goods on the day of the shoot.    Whatever the reason, this video gets very repetitive very quickly.

Wait, he won an Oscar? WHAAAA?!

Wait, he won an Oscar? WHAAAA?!

My favorite parts from this silly, silly video: the man pouring wine from the ceiling INTO A GLASS BELOW!  WHAT AIM HE’S GOT!  Also, the young woman dancing as her dress is blown up by an air vent.  It’s an homage to Marilyn Monroe but it doesn’t make any sense.  The woman is upside down.  An air vent wouldn’t blow her dress up.  THE GOD DAMNED GRAVITY WOULD!

But I’m not a scientist like Dr. Richie.  I’m sure this was all intentional.

Let’s not even talk about Rodney Dangerfield showing up at the end.  His exchange with Lionel Richie (who has perfected the alluring aura of Dracula by the end) is just too forced and too awkward.  As someone who respects the work of Mr. Dangerfield, we will never speak of that again.

As much as I rip on this video there is a part of me that respects it.  You wouldn’t see anything like this today.  Musicians don’t attempt to make good music videos anymore.  In fact, they don’t make music videos at all.  But if they did, they wouldn’t be as inventive as this one.  It’s not perfect — not by a long, long, long, long, long shot — but at least it’s trying dang nabbit.

Seriously, imagine this video with some sweet CGI.  Maybe throw a Godzilla or two in there.  Man, that video would be nuts.

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3 Responses to “Dancing on the Ceiling – Lionel Richie”

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